Robert Hainsey starts at one of the most important positions for the most talented high school football team in the country. He also faces one of the nation’s best defensive ends every day in practice at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
IMG head coach Kevin Wright spoke with Irish Illustrated about Notre Dame’s newest commitment.
“Robert took home the offensive line MVP a while back at The Opening Regional in Orlando, and I that’s when I started to get a lot of questions from coaches about him,” Wright said. “The impression I got was that some people were surprised by how well he did, but I wasn’t surprised at all. Everyone knows what Josh (Kaindoh) can do, but they don’t realize he’s pushed every day in practice by Robert Hainsey. That’s a big part of why Kaindoh has developed into an elite defensive lineman.”
“I see Robert go up against Kaindoh in practice, and it’s always a battle. No matter what level it is, your left tackle vs. their best pass-rusher is always the most difficult matchup. So Robert already has a taste of what’s that like.”
The 6-foot-6, 328-pound Hainsey plays tackle in high school, but his landing spot in South Bend is likely at guard.
“More than anything, he’s a very athletic guy,” Wright said. “He was a natural fit from day one for us at left tackle. Athleticism is the No. 1 thing he brings to the table, but with that is his attention to detail and desire to be the best technician that he can be.”
Hainsey’s athleticism and positional versatility is complemented by his work ethic, a combination that Irish offensive line coach Harry Hiestand covets.
“He loves practice,” Wright said. “He’s constantly trying to get better. He studies film and goes out of his way to ask the coaches what he can do better. He attacks any deficiency relentlessly. He’s unique in that way. A lot of players with that level of athleticism wouldn’t put that much work into the game.
“He’s the same way with this work ethic in the weight room. He’s added over 20 pounds of muscle since he came here last summer. He’s always had the athleticism, but now he has the frame to go with it.”
The Western Pennsylvania native transferred to IMG last summer. Before his transfer, Michigan and Penn State held the top spots in his recruitment. The Irish entered the picture as a serious threat when they got him on campus in the spring.
Hainsey’s return for Irish Invasion is what sealed the deal for Notre Dame.
“I can certainly see him at Notre Dame,” Wright said. “I’ve said this before, but there are a few of my players every year that are Notre Dame type kids. Hainsey falls in that category.”